The most prevalent signs of an unhappy marriage are a lack of sexual intimacy and a breakdown in communication. One of the first indications of trouble on the home front is a failure to communicate. Husbands and wives holding secret grudges, seething resentment, or smoldering bitterness will find it difficult to carry on a meaningful conversation. Instead of hashing out issues that divide, couples often resort to civil but meaningless dribble about the weather or car pooling the kids. But underneath all that civility may lay a cesspool of anguish, unresolved conflict and confusion. The Bible admonishes men and women to be exercise care in entreating one another:
"But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:8-16).
Warning signs of an unhappy marriage, such as a breakdown in communication, just do not happen overnight. If couples do not cultivate good listening habits, slipping into patterns of poor communication may contribute to the deterioration of what once was a mutually satisfying relationship. Prior to marriage, singles are quick to respond to their partner's every word. Captivated by physical attraction and caught up in the whirlwind of romance, single couples cleave to one another with a passionate purpose to please, no matter what the cost. The courtship process is a winner-take-all proposition; and neither partner can afford to make a mistake, lest the mistake be a fatal one which ends the relationship.
The problem with many marriages is that almost from the moment newlyweds leave the altar they forget how to be affectionate and attentive. Several years into the marriage, signs of an unhappy marriage may begin to rear their ugly head. Husbands who used to spend hours on the telephone may no longer yearn to whisper sweet nothings in their wife's ear; and tender talks turn to nagging demands or denigrating innuendos. Some couples in crisis even resort to communicating with each other through the children, saying, "Tell you mother I am going to the store;" or "Tell your father dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes." And the wall of silence continues to rise higher and higher until there is no meaningful conversation and no sharing of ideas or romantic messages. Signs of an unhappy marriage may become even more apparent when the kids move away from home, leaving husbands and wives to deal with an empty nest and the specter of silence.
Strained communication usually leads to estranged relations in the bedroom. A lack of sexual intimacy is one of the foremost signs of an unhappy marriage. As couples stop talking to one another, the desire for intimacy can become less frequent. But the root word for communication is "commune." To commune means to share an exchange of ideas, information or messages, in an intimate or close setting. The bedroom is actually a place to physically consummate the communication of ideas or information closely shared throughout the day! If a husband and wife have engaged in close conversation from morning to evening, sharing sexual intimacy is just a natural consequence. Wives who have been wooed by attentive husbands will have no trouble responding after midnight.
When signs of an unhappy marriage become increasingly noticeable and threaten to destroy a happy home, couples should seek professional or spiritual counsel. Marriage mediation, reconciliation counseling, couples retreats, or weekend workshops are all options for restoring a troubled home front. A neutral party can help husbands and wives begin a dialogue about bothersome issues without taking sides. Sometimes an initial session can uncover hidden emotions of resentment, bitterness or anger. But there is no need for partners to allow a lack of forgiveness or understanding ruin a relationship meant to last a lifetime.
Apparent signs of an unhappy marriage may also have spiritual implications. Often an individual who is incapable of expressing themselves verbally or sexually may need to examine their relationship with God. A seasoned minister can help couples deal with feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, or a lack of emotion that threatens the marital relationship. Many hurting spouses may discover the root cause of conflict can be resolved through spiritual renewal. Becoming a born again believer is relatively simple. First, admit that you are a sinner. Then, verbally confess a personal belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Next, pray and ask God for the forgiveness of sin available to every soul through the sacrificial act of Jesus shedding His blood on Calvary's Cross over 2,000 years ago. Find a good Bible-believing church to strengthen your faith in God.
Eradicating signs of an unhappy marriage can be accomplished if both partners are willing to do some soul-searching to establish positive behavior patterns. Couples may need professional or spiritual help to address emotional issues, but by taking the time to accurately evaluate problems and discuss alternate behaviors, the process of healing and reconciliation can begin. Partners should resolve to forgive one another, to let go of past hurts, and begin to rebuild communication. A weekend marriage retreat may help open a more meaningful dialogue and rekindle the flames dampened through discord. Finally, personal spiritual renewal can empower individuals or couples to discover a new love for God and each other.